Eclipse at 44,000 feet
This photo is beyond words, but I’ll try anyway! While many awesome eclipse photos floating around the interwebs are fake (like this one), I assure you this otherworldly scene is 100% real.
It’s incredible for not only what it shows, but how ridonkulously difficult it was to take in the first place:
Last weekend’s solar eclipse (as seen here from space) was a short one, and it traced much of its inky path over the Atlantic ocean, meaning that, unless you were a particularly astronomically-minded whale, you didn’t get to see it first-hand.
That didn’t stop the folks behind this photo. Ben Cooper and his team chartered a jet out of Bermuda and set off to intercept the eclipse over the open ocean.
Here’s where it gets tough. Their plane was flying at 500 mph, aiming perpendicularly (north-south) across the path of the eclipse. The moon’s shadow, crossing in front of the sun, was traveling across the Atlantic at 8,000 mph. From their longitude, the eclipse was only set to last 10-15 seconds. They had to essentially hit a bullet with another bullet, in a ten second window, and take a picture of it to boot.
And what a picture they got! Just an instant after totality the sun is beginning to creep out from behind the moon, creating a “diamond ring” effect. The plane and the clouds below are bathed in darkness, while billows along the horizon glow, still bathed in non-eclipsed light. Wow.
If you need me, I’ll be staring at this for a few hours.
Goniurellia tridens is the “come at me bro” of fruit flies, carrying two menacing ant shapes as a defensive display.
If you missed it last night, check out these amazingly-disguised moths and butterflies that I saw on a tour of UF’s Lepidoptera collection last weekend. Just when I think I’ve found the coolest decoy coloring, I see something like this … what else ya got, nature?
(photo by Peter Roosenschoon, which is a very cool name)
A Universe on the Head of a Pin
Nikon’s Small World photomicrography winners for 2013 have been announced, and they are as marvelous as ever.
If you’re like me, you enjoy the idea of discovering new worlds, being star stuff, the universe knowing itself, and all that jazz. And when we speak of accessing a universe that we never before knew existed, we naturally look to space. We are regularly transported beyond the here and now through the lens of the telescope. First we used visible light, and then ventured into further reaches of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is such a humble invention, and it has so humbled our species.
The microscope is just a telescope turned on its end. It has, like its distant-gazing predecessor, transported us to new worlds and new discoveries. And it has also changed how humans view their place in the universe, perhaps even more profoundly than the telescope. Since the era of Hooke and van Leeuwenhoek, observations of the small world have shaken the idea that man is in some way a privileged creature.
Not only are we but a speck among infinite specks in the universe, but we are merely one arrangement of living matter in a world full of it, a single page in a book of splendor, thriving at every scale.
How lucky we are to be the only ones who know it!
Anyway, I respect the Nikon judges’ decisions and all, but I picked my own list of favorites here. Enjoy (from top):
- This section of muscle and nerve reminds me so much of Ramon y Cajal it’s not funny.
- The fluorescently-labeled nerves of an 11-day-old mouse embryo and the painted bones of a chameleon.
- The “atomic Velcro” foot pad of a beetle and the molecular might of a spider’s web trapping an insect.
- Images go abstract with swirling silicon dioxide and a turtle’s retina.
- Last but not least, it’s a freakin’ parasitic wasp larva coming out of a spider.
Enjoy the rest in Nikon’s gallery.
Jason Isley’s Marine Miniatures
The ocean is full of treasures for the eyes. Anyone who’s looked at a gallery of nudibranchs knows that. But eventually, a picture of a fish is just a picture of a fish.
Jason Isley, an underwater photographer for ScubaZoo, decided to spice it up a bit by adding miniature people to the mix in his Underwater Minitaures series on Flickr. In his photos, the reef is transformed into an alien world full of giant (sea)horses, terrifying sand eels, and toxic-orange gardens of whoknowswhat. The way he matches the miniatures to the marine biology is both hilarious and admirable.
Not all of his creations are so lighthearted, though. One paints a “fish bomb” scene (a destructive fishing method using dynamite) as CSI case. And many zoom in on the tiny toxic waste and plastic garbage dumps that litter our oceans.
I’ve selected a few of my favorites here, and Christie Wilcox has a lot more over at Science Sushi (which is where I found them). Go tour Jason Isley’s full gallery on his Flickr page.
Extended Exposure: A sampling of long-exposure and multiple-exposure photography from NASA. Take a long look.
Doesn’t include my favorite long exposure image of all time, though: The Hubble Extreme Deep Field, a 2 million second look into the deepest corners of space, almost to the edge of time itself.
Glow with the Flow
Wind tunnel test of an experimental wing design from NASA painted with fluorescent oil to highlight flow patterns.
Follow that aerodynamic awesomeness with a video about how Game of Thrones animators designed Khaleesi’s dragons with the help of a computerized wind tunnel (via WIRED):
And finally, check out this kayaker going with the flow, fluid dynamics seen in foaming river (via Lucas Gilman):
(top image via NASA)
Best Astrophotography of the Year, as chosen by the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
From both an existential and purely technical/photographic aspect, these shots blow my mind. Check out the full gallery of winners at My Modern Met.
(Top two images by Mark Gee, bottom image by Adam Block)
Bonus: Check out grand prize winner Mark Gee’s breathtaking video of a rising moon and tiny human silhouettes, pointing at it and ooh-ing and ahh-ing and generally marveling at the lunar awesomeness. It’s just … wow.
Face It, Bugs Rule
Welcome to my new favorite spot on the internet*, the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab’s Flickr page. It’s got more than a thousand macro portraits of bees, wasps, beetles, birds, butterflies, hoppers and who-knows-whats. And they are all Creative Commons licensed!
Sure, it’s interesting to imagine all that lies beyond our reality, the depths of space, the invisible portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, but when we turn our eyes to that which is smaller … we have freaky little beady eyes staring back at us WHAT ARE THESE WEE BEASTIES?!
Just one more thing that I can’t help pointing out: See that little triad of eye spots on the forehead of most of these species? Say hello to “dorsal ocelli”, the simple light-sensing eyespots present on the heads of most insects (AKA “the reason you can’t swat a fly before it flies away”)
*sure to change within a few days
Blow Out A Candle, Illuminate Your Mind
The smoke that wafts from the just-extinguished wick of a candle is not mere ash and soot. It is a nearly-invisible cloud of vaporized droplets of wax. Head on over to But Not Simpler…to find out the physics behind this shimmering phenomenon.
A tidbit of wonder that’s been sitting under our noses, on our birthday cakes, this whole time. Keep your eyes open and your brains sharp … you never know when you’ll stumble on something amazing.